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10.4x38mm Swiss Rimfire M1878 bolt action rifle

mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,828 ✭✭✭
edited December 2019 in General Discussion
Repetier-gewehr Vetterli Model 1878 41 Rimfire Rifle - Antique *Waffenfabrik Bern* (made by the eldgenossische waffenfabrik Bern 1878 - 1881)

Total production all variants approximately 100,000 units (the subject rifle has some odd features including twin magazine tubes each holding 11 rounds in each tube - total capacity is 24 rounds if you include one on the elevator and one in the chamber)

The rifle features a magazine cut out device allowing the user to load single rounds during normal combat scenarios with the capability of feeding directly from the magazine tubes should rapid fire be called for (records indicate only 904 examples were manufactured with the twin magazine tube feature)...

The subject rifle has been fitted with a Schmidt type set trigger - consequently there are two trigger levers inside the spurred guard (also found on the Stutzer variant - records indicate only 5,410 rifles out of the total production count were manufactured with the set trigger)

This gun is equipped with factory installed target sights following the dioptor / peep sight pattern - designed for inter service competition match target course of fire (records indicate only 504 examples were produced with the Olympic style international target sights)

This is an antique Repetiergewehr Vetterli Model 1878 (M-78) rifle chambered in .41 Rimfire (10.4x38mm Swiss Rimfire).

This variant was manufactured with a bolt guide above the wrist of the stock - this example features the stock dicing usually found on the forend...

The action is locked by rotating two lugs on the bolt body into seats in the receiver behind the elevator well engaged as the bolt handle was turned down.

The Vetterli rifle was the predecessor to the Schmidt-Rubin rifles. It features a 33.15-inch medium profile round barrel (four groove rifling RH Concentric 11-round magazine tube (under barrel) (standard), factory target sights (optional) wood stock with Swiss cartouches / proofs / witness marks / unit designation / make and model nomenclature impressed into the stock - 2 sling loops, bayonet lug, cleaning rod, and a trigger guard hook (rifle accepts a sword bayonet or pioneer saw back bayonet)

Serial Number: 160881 (all numbers Matching: receiver, chamber, bolt, magazine, buttplate)

Cocking piece has been knurled to provide for a surface easier to grip should a misfire occure - allowing the shooter to manually recock the gun and subsequently give the firing pin a second chance on striking the cartridges rim...

Bolt handle has been turned down and angled back - the bolt knob now resembles an acorn and provides an improved gripping surface...

Stock / furniture features prominent dicing and dense checkering.

The primary trigger lever surface has a trigger shoe installed - providing for a wider surface which has been textured to provide a more effective point of contact...

The rifle weighs approx 10 1/2 pounds unloaded.

Stock has been oiled and varnished - polished and wiped down by hand - it appears extreme care was taken to maintain the gun in pristine condition - screw heads have not been buggered or marred or scratched...

Light handling usage and storage marks are present - muzzle crown and bore / chamber show little if any wear or usage...

The metal surfaces have taken on an almost uniform slate gray appearance - furniture to metal fitment and are superb - no signs of shrinkage or indications of cracks or repairs...

Upon removing the Swiss style buttplate it's my firm belief that it has not been off of the gun since it left the factory - it looks fresh cut and has a hint of that fresh cut wood smell (along with gun oil)

Cleaning rod is absent - no bayonet or cleaning kit or accessories are present...

I picked this up from SARCO 20+ years ago - paid a hand select fee and distributors reserve fee - we had paid them a visit to transport a bunch of surplus and obsolete guns and I was allowed the privilege of picking out the rifle myself - they has 2 pallets full of them - mostly short rifles or border patrol carbines or pioneer pieces (many cut down or shortened via arsenal conversion - many refinished)

It's an interesting piece and makes a fine range day plinker or teaching tool.

Unit markings and designations / nomenclature indicate issue to a mountain division stationed in the Swiss Alps along the border with Italy.

Mike

Comments

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,828 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
  • Sam06Sam06 Member Posts: 19,073 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Didn't they have a center fire version.

    I used to see those at gunshows in the 80's you don't run into them much anymore.
    RLTW

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,828 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Yes they had a center fired variant that was identical to the rimfire cartridge - the only difference being the method of priming / ignition...

    The Italians converted much of their inventory to chamber and fire the 7.35 and 6.5X52 during WWI and throughout the treaty of Versailles interwar period...

    The converted to utilize the new modern ammo variants were intended to be issued to 3rd tier troops / line of communication troops / transportation troops / colonial conscripts / last resort seed corn troops (aged from 14 to 18 and the elderly (over 35.through 60)

    Also by design intent it reduced the TO&E ammo supply line by reducing the number of cartridge types to be issued - to increase cartridge commonality / interchangeability - and to streamline ammo manufacturing production line issues (reducing costs - increasing rate of production - etc...)

    These conversion variants were not well designed or well constructed - quality control was poor and point of failure issues connected to the action and barrel were prevalent...

    To further confuse the issue they converted needle fire rifles to accept the new modern carcano cartridges - and due to production issues and manufacturing capacity they outsourced rifle production to other axis powers - most notably the Japanese arisaka and murata facilities (Type I rifles)...

    The Italian mannlicher carcano cavalry carbines experienced similar issues.

    They also converted most of their Remington rolling block infantry rifles to accept the new modern cartridges...

    In addition to the Hodge podge cottage industry manufacturing mess - where rifles were hand fit and finished and often did not consist of interchangeable parts - they tried to convert captured weapons to a common standard configuration and new modern Italian ammo compatibility - notably as an example the infantry long arms from Ethiopia...

    There were also arsenal level prototypes and short production runs for trial usage and acceptance of cutting edge concepts and patent development - the tipo terni model 1921assault rifle using an intermediate cartridge design...

    Or the Italian trials Czech ZK-391 semiautomatic rifle...

    I do remember seeing these (all types and variants - makes and models) advertised in the back of trade publications selling by the pound or the pallet - barrel) from folks like bannermans ...

    Or pristine numbers matching superb examples (hand select - pickers reserve - etc...

    The vetterli variants were before my time working in the gunshop - but I lusted after strange and odd and obsolete weapons only ever seen in reference books...

    I have 3 of the vetterli rifles - one pristine original Swiss variant chambered in the original rimfire cartridge with some strange options...

    One is a nice Swiss variant that has been converted to centerfire - it's in great shape and numbers matching but nothing special...

    The third post war gentleman's stalking rifle - hurtgen forest style - it's an Italian piece that some skilled gunsmith put a ton of hours into modifying the standard military pattern into a mild custom hunting rifle with nice embellishments and custom appointments done tastefully - having been rechambered to the 6.5 carcano cartridge...

    I like it - it has some bespoke nice little custom features - but had been passed over for a decade - gathering dust and taking up a wall space in the behind the counter display...

    These are not amazing rare guns with or highly sought after collectors examples - but nice matching functional examples / shooter grade range day guns.

    Mike
  • Sam06Sam06 Member Posts: 19,073 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I used to shoot in a match where all the guns had to be made before 1890 and had to be military guns. I was shooting a 45-70 trap door Springfield Cadet and I remember a guy who shot one of those in the centerfire version. The match was 20 rounds at 200 yards.
    RLTW

  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,828 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    In addition to the 3 M1878 Swiss rimfire turn bolt rifles I have 5 K-31 Schmidt Rubin straight pull action rifles chambered in 7.5mm swiss (3 are in my possession and 2 are in one of my father's gun cabinets)

    As per my normal ADD / AD-HD behavior patterns and my gun hoarding affliction I managed to obtain and curate some obscure variants not often encountered outside of reference books...

    Rifle #1: A Hammerli (M1941private or "P"series) custom built international match target rifle with Olympic style competition dioptor peep sights and an externally adjustable trigger (pull weight and overall length of pull and two stage travel via set screws) and an interchangeable glascube front sight with integral anti cant spirit level (one set of detachable front and rear target sights and attachment point bases are offset to the left to avoid interference with the stripper clip guide lugs) (one set is in line with the barrel / the rear component has virtually no eye relief as it mounts behind the stripper clip guide lugs to avoid interference) (an alternative centra front sight tunnel is present)


    Rifle #2: A Swiss arsenal built Zfk-55 purpose built bespoke blueprinted sniper rifle with a special heavy barrel - elaborate German inspired muzzle break - the stock has weights added to improve balance and stability - custom heavy dense checkering has been applied to the pistol grip - a custom dedicated heavy books has been added (these guns were hand made and hand tuned / many parts no longer interchange with those present on the standard issue infantry rifle) quick detatch sniper scope numbered to the gun is included - the rifles action has been rotated 15 degrees offset from the standard rifles alignment - allowing stripper clips / chargers to used to quick load the gun on an angle - to avoid interference from the inline parallel scope and mount avoiding it he out of alignment or offset optic issues encountered on similar sniper rifles like the M1 D Garand sniper rifle...

    It's the only application of this set up I have ever seen in person or in reference books - it works and it makes sense and eliminates operational interference without sacrificing any normal functions or creating additional issues...

    In addition the detachable magazine is now inserted at an offset angle when inserted into the bottom of the rifle (magazines are marked ZF optical offset and numbered to the gun)...

    3.5X scope - a reflection of designated marksmen adding a sniper rifles impact on the field of battle rather than super sniper with incredible optics - field craft - and patience so often referenced in popular fiction or movies...

    Incredible no creep trigger with near perfect glass rod brake...

    Unloaded the gun weighs almost 14 pounds...

    More to follow later if anyone is interested in my field inspection notes and observations

    Mike
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